General Questions

Questions that are most often asked that do not fall in any specific service topic.

Are new services planned? If so what will they be?

A number of new web services are in active development. These services are being piloted on ( )

How can I get notified of changes to this system? There are two ways:

  1. Subscribe to the site’s news feed to learn when new features are released.
  2. For general news, site outage information etc. news on USGS water services is also sent to email subscribers via the USGS Water Data Notification Service External Link. This is a better method if you want to know what will be coming up. New services may be open to public testing prior to deployment, in which case your testing may prove important to the quality and usability of new services.

How do I find out if I am being blocked?

You should see a HTTP 403 Access Forbidden error.

Why am I being blocked?

Blocking access to a service should only occur if the USGS believes that your use of the service is so excessive that it is seriously impacting others using the service.

How do I get unblocked?

To get unblocked, send us the URL you are using along with the IP using this form. We may require changes to your query and frequency of use in order to give you access to the service again.

Do you have guidelines for acceptable usage?

For small requests (e.g., up to 7 or 14 days for a single site) limit requests to a maximum of 5-10 per second at a steady rate. A maximum burst rate of to 40 or 50 request per second is OK, but not for extended periods of time.

My scripts time out. Is your service running slowly?

Possibly. It could also be that the client you are using is not configured to handle redirects. In this case, there are two approaches to handle redirect:

  1. Fully qualify the URL by adding a / before the ? in the URL, ex:,1.1&sites=01646500 rather than,1.1&sites=01646500 .
  2. Configure your client, if it has the feature, to automatically follow HTTP 301 redirects. For example, if you use curl add the –location or -L option.

How does this site relate to the USGS Water Data for the Nation site (

This site complements the USGS Water Data for the Nation site. The data are identical between the two sites. The USGS Water Data for the Nation site is designed for browsing and human ad-hoc inquiries of USGS water data. This site is designed to accommodate those interested in acquiring data to frequent machine processing. All services are designed for high availability, fast response and to support modern output formats.

How much traffic does this site receive?

Site web traffic varies from month to month but growth has been strong. In a typical month, fifteen to 20 million requests are made to USGS water services. The site typically ranks second in the rankings of most trafficked USGS web sites tracked within the USGS National Web infrastructure.

Which services are most popular?

Using October 2012-September 2013 as a baseline, 86% of traffic was for the instantaneous values web service, 8% for the daily values web service, 5% for the site service and 1% for the groundwater levels service. It is not surprising that real-time data would be of the most interest.

What are the motivations for this site?

The site serves these major purposes:

  1. It eases the acquisition of approved and provisional data from the USGS National Water Information System for the millions of users of USGS water data. The USGS hopes that this will spur both internal and external communities to use the data for any intended usage by allowing it to be easily acquired from a reliable, trusted and highly available source.
  2. It allows the USGS Water Data for the Nation site to evolve. Over time, the USGS Water Data for the Nation site will be overhauled. It will use the same web services available to anyone to acquire its data. In the long run it will make that system easier to maintain and retrofit for new uses.